Friday, May 10, 2013

Dzokhar Tsarnaev and the death penalty

by Jeff Jacoby

ACCORDING TO a Washington Post-ABC poll released last week, 70 percent of Americans want Dzhokhar Tsarnaev put to death if he is convicted of the Boston Marathon bombing. Support for execution was higher among some respondents (conservatives, the elderly, whites) and lower among others (liberals, young adults, blacks). But no matter how the results were sorted, within every demographic subgroup there was majority support for the death penalty in this case.

That is no anomaly. It is a reminder that despite the well-funded efforts of death-penalty abolitionists, the true level of approval for the death penalty in America remains very high.

If you take your cues from the headlines, you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

Maryland last week became the 18th state without capital punishment when Governor Martin O'Malley, a longtime opponent, signed repeal legislation before a crowd of applauding allies. That came about a year after similar action in Connecticut, where Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed a bill banning executions in April 2012.

Foes of capital punishment foes like to point to such developments as proof of America's ineluctable retreat from the death penalty. News accounts of declining public support for executing murderers have become something of a yearly tradition. Anti-execution activists regularly forecast the coming demise of Death Row.

"I don't know exactly what the timing is, but over the longer arc of history I think you'll see more and more states repeal the death penalty," O'Malley told reporters after signing the Maryland repeal. Law professor Jamin Raskin, a Maryland state senator, echoed that sentiment. "The trend lines are clear," he said. "There's nobody who's adding the death penalty to their state laws. Everybody is taking it away."

Everybody? It would be more accurate to say that some willful politicians have taken it away by flouting voters' wishes. The Washington Post reported in February that on this issue, a majority of Marylanders opposed O'Malley; 60 percent wanted the state to retain the death penalty as an option for especially heinous killings, while only 36 percent believed life without parole should be Maryland's harshest penalty.

In Connecticut, too, ending capital punishment meant riding roughshod over public opinion. A Quinnipiac University poll conducted as Connecticut's abolition bill awaited Malloy's signature found that 62 percent of the state's voters supported the death penalty, and that six out of 10 said the legislature's abolition decision was a "bad idea."

Elected lawmakers disregarding their constituents? Shocking, I know. Yet the death penalty for murder has commanded majority support for decades, rising to a record high of 80 percent in the 1990s. In no state, not even the bluest, has the death penalty been successfully repealed by referendum. Last November, as Californians were voting to re-elect President Obama, they were simultaneously defeating a ballot measure that would have abolished execution as the ultimate penalty for murder. Opposition to capital punishment enjoys plenty of support among media and political elites, and Americans are routinely reminded that most modern democracies have outlawed it. Yet whenever the question is put to voters directly – repeal or retain? -- they choose to retain it.

The horror Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is accused of is practically a textbook example of aggravating factors that would merit the death penalty — including the murder of a child, 8-year-old Martin Richard.

Of course no reasonable person suggests that every homicide should get the death penalty. What the great majority of Americans do believe is that for the most egregious or cold-blooded killers, execution should be a possibility. Most opinion surveys merely ask some version of the question Gallup routinely poses: "Are you in favor of the death penalty for a person convicted of murder?" But that understates the true level of support. Yes, there is an influential minority of Americans that opposes capital punishment, period. But the overwhelming majority of us believe that it should be available in at least some cases – the "worst of the worst."

Just where that line should be drawn – which aggravating factors should be required to make a crime death-eligible – is a legitimate subject for debate. But sometimes debate is superfluous.

The horror Tsarnaev is accused of is practically a textbook example of aggravating factors: Multiple murder, murder of a child, murder of a police officer, bombing in a public place, wanton cruelty, substantial premeditation, intention to terrorize. In such a case, should the judge and jury have the option of imposing the death penalty if they decide that's what justice requires? Seven out of 10 Americans say yes. Which is another way of saying that 7 out of 10 Americans are pro-capital punishment.


Overcrowding Cause for Prisoners Release, DOJ Says While Prisons Stand Empty, Underused

Leftists heart criminals

The Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General’s April 2013 report on the Federal Bureau of Prison’s plan for the “compassionate release” of old, sick and low-risk inmates cites cost savings and less crowded prisons as benefits.

But at a House Judiciary hearing last month, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), questioned a DOJ official on the status of five federal prisons that were either empty or operating at a reduced capacity.

Sensenbrenner, chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, first noted that the DOJ had paid $165 million for the Thomson prison complex in Illinois in October 2012 that still has not been “activated” before questioning witness Lee Lofthus, assistant attorney general for administration at DOJ.

“Mr. Lofthus, the Thomson prison was a white elephant,” Sensenbrenner said. “The Department of Justice purchased it last October from the president’s home state of Illinois.”

Sensenbrenner noted that Congress had opposed the acquisition “and the fact that DOJ has four duly constructed Bureau of Prison facilities that currently sit idle awaiting full funding for operation.”

Sensenbrenner asked Lofthus: “Why do we have five prisons sitting empty?”

“Let me start by saying that we bought Thomson because we needed the high security bed spaces for the federal prison,” Lofthus said. “BOP needs high security bed space.

“It is 52 percent overcrowded in the high security level,” Lofthus said, adding that the purchase was “getting value for the taxpayer.”

Sensenbrenner then asked Lofthus about the Federal Correction Institution (FCI) Aliceville (Alabama), FCI Berlin (New Hampshire), FCI Hazelton (West Virginia), and FCI Yazoo City (Mississippi) prisons’ statuses.

“Well, we’ve got four other prisons that are sitting empty that apparently aren’t as high priority to this day,” Sensenbrenner said, asking if there were plans to sell the facilities.

Lofthus said DOJ did not plan to sell them because the prisons in New Hampshire and Alabama already had inmates. But when asked the percentage of capacity, Lofthus said “off the top of my head” it was “approximately 10 percent.”

As for the other two prisons, Lofthus said the West Virginia prison was recently completed and the Mississippi prison was not completed.


Another coverup of black crime

Chechens aren’t the only refugees committing crime in Massachusetts.  A 20 year old Liberian Refugee, Charles Monroe, was recently arrested for stalking three teenage girls as they were walking to school in the morning in the Vernon Hill section of Worcester, right near the campuses of St. Mary’s High School and Worcester Academy.  My guess is that the girls probably attended the former.

In three separate incidents, Monroe pulled a knife on each girl as they walked alone to school.  The first two girls managed to get away.  But the other was forced into a nearby apartment building, where she was raped and sexually humiliated.

Nevertheless, his attorney asked the judge for leniency because “Monroe had a ‘very difficult upbringing’ in war-torn Liberia before he and his mother came to the United States through a church mission when he was 11 years old.”

I’m sure that upbringing can’t compare to the horror Monroe inflicted on an innocent 17 year old girl.

The Boston Globe refused to identify the race or nationality of the rapist [Worcester man convicted of assaulting 3 teen girls, Boston Globe, May 2, 2013].  But other outlets were more responsible.  [Liberian refugee jailed for knife attacks on Worcester schoolgirls, by Gary V. Murray, Worcester Telegram, May 2, 2013]

In court, Charles Monroe laughed as the charges were read.


We fought for equality. So why do greedy British wives still sponge off their ex-husbands?

The other day, a relatively new man friend drove me past a splendid detached house in a rich suburb of London, where prices are at least £1.5 million. ‘What do you think of it?’ he asked. ‘Nice,’ I said. ‘Are you thinking of buying it?’

‘I wish I could,’ he said. ‘It used to belong to me, but it’s now my ex-wife’s. She got it on our divorce.’

He had been banished to a dingy rented flat, he told me. This was all he could afford, as he was also paying out £800-a-month maintenance, as well as their children’s school fees.

Welcome to divorce, 2013 style.

Far from being an unlucky, isolated example, my friend is one of the growing number of men who find themselves losing everything through divorce.

Meanwhile, women, ever more, seem to be living by the principle of ‘don’t get mad, get everything’.

And often, they go on getting everything for years, long after time has been called on their marriage.

In these days of equal education, opportunities and access to professions, women are still humiliating themselves by expecting (and receiving) huge and continuing settlements when a marriage ends.

I consider myself a feminist, but I don’t see why today’s divorcing women should expect any kind of settlement at all.

What on earth is wrong with earning your own living and standing on your own two feet? If modern marriage is an equal partnership, divorce should be the same, surely, with both parties getting out what they have put in, as when any other type of contract ends.

Yet modern women are still positioning themselves as the weaker vessel having to be kept by a big strong man, whether married or divorced. We have fought for equality, and many battles have been won, but divorcing women are still making out they are pathetic little Fifties housewives unable to fend for themselves, before ruthlessly fleecing the men they once professed to love.

They should be utterly ashamed.

Depressingly, this year’s Rich List, for the first time, included a separate list for divorced women whose only source of vast wealth was that provided by their ex-husbands. The compilers of the list said that if you are an attractive woman, possibly your best guarantee of a huge income is to marry a super-rich man and then divorce him a few years later.

Slavica Ecclestone walked away with around £750 million after her divorce from Bernie, following a 23-year marriage and two daughters; Irina Malandina was awarded £155 million after 16 years of marriage to Russian Roman Abramovich and five children; and Diana Jenkins, former wife of Barclays tax expert Roger Jenkins, banked a handy £150 million at the dissolution of their ten-year marriage.

If you want to do the same, push out a kid if at all possible. Based on the Heather Mills principle, this will mean you can command an even better settlement. The presence of a child will ensure generous maintenance payments for years, maybe decades, to come.

I can’t help suspecting that many of these women who got themselves on the ex-wives list were never passionately in love with their high-earning husbands. To a greater or lesser extent, their marriages will probably have been soul-less arrangements from the outset.

It’s easy for an attractive woman to use her charm and wiles to entrap a rich man, all the time calculating the cash they receive when they can call time on the marriage.

So why can’t they put such time and forethought into developing careers and financial independence rather than sponging off someone else?

It’s significant that, so far, there is no Rich List for the ex-husbands of wealthy women. And of course, not every wife who endures the pain of divorce will end up quids in.

According to a new report, if you are a woman intent on a lucrative split, you should make sure you live in a city, as then you are more likely to be awarded continuing maintenance on top of the lion’s share of the marital assets. 

A survey of over 700 divorce cases found that metropolitan courts almost always award a better deal to ex-wives than provincial courts.

The report added that spouses who live in the country will most likely have to make do with a clean-break settlement, as they are expected to stand on their own two feet after divorce.

It’s not even necessary to set your cap at a vastly rich husband to do well out of divorce.

Divorce courts always consider the income or property the higher earner is likely to have in future. When a wealthy person divorces, it is often considered that the former spouse made him what he was — or played a major part.

Women who are married to ordinary earners can be set up for years with the house, car, custody of children and a regular lump sum in their accounts.

Some divorcees are reluctant to remarry, in case they kill the goose that lays the golden egg — maintenance usually stops when you have another husband to support you — so they content themselves with boyfriends, lovers and, as they get older, the mandatory toyboy.

The cruellest trick of all? Even years after divorce, an ex-wife can come back and demand more on the basis that she made a significant contribution to her husband’s wealth, or that she supported him with her own earnings.

Since 2000, ex-wives have been able to go back to the courts to demand a slice of their former husband’s pension. Pensions were brought into the divorce arena 13 years ago on the grounds that most pensions are in the husband’s name, and the marriage was ongoing as the pension fund accrued.

Michael Douglas’s first wife, Diandra Lukar, has just re-opened their case and is demanding a share of her former husband’s future earnings, 13 years after they divorced. This was after losing her case in 2010 for a share of Money Never Sleeps, as Douglas argued this film was made after their divorce.

But she is still  entitled to a share of earnings from films made during their marriage. This can also happen in the UK if the wife has no reasonable expectations of being a high earner in her own right. Karen Parlour, who divorced her England and Arsenal football star husband Ray in 2002, won the legal right to a one-third share of his future earnings in 2004 in a landmark case at the Court of Appeal. It set a precedent for former wives to bag themselves the share they would enjoy if they were still married.

When a wife has been brutally dumped, perhaps there’s more grounds for sympathy. But these days, an estimated 70 per cent of divorces are brought by women. What are these women being paid for, when no longer married?

In my circle of friends alone, I know of countless men who have fallen foul of greedy ex-wives who seem determined to see the men they married reduced to penury. It’s easy for an attractive woman to use her charm and wiles to entrap a rich man, all the time calculating the cash they receive when they can call time on the marriage.

One friend had been married for about 20 years when his wife decided she wanted a divorce. There were no particular grounds, and no one else was involved. Each sought out a lawyer, and the wife was awarded 85 per cent of the joint assets.

There were no children and she had never worked. After the divorce, she moved into a small cottage with enough money to see her out.  He had just enough money to buy a small flat, and had to start all over again. He got virtually none of the marital assets accumulated over the years, including a house worth £800,000.

My friend Alex Williams, the artist, came out of his first marriage of over 26 years at the age of 50 with, quite literally, nothing — not even a roof over his head. His solicitor felt that was the best she could do for him, and he was lucky not to have to pay maintenance too.

His children were then in their mid-20s, and his ex-wife continued to live in what had been the marital home — the home Alex had spent years renovating from a ruin.

Again, it was his then-wife who had called time on the marriage.

A few years after my own divorce, I updated a lawyer friend on my situation, telling him my ex was now living as a monk in a retreat centre and had taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. My friend’s first question was: ‘Does he pay your maintenance?’

‘Maintenance?’ I asked in surprise.  When we divorced, no lawyers were involved, and we did a 50/50 split with no further financial obligations on either side. It was a fair division and reflected what each had put into the relationship.

I could never have demeaned myself by accepting maintenance, and allowing myself to be a kept woman for years after divorce.

I know there are many cases where men have been the villains, having secret mistresses or have gambled or drunk away family funds. Rightly, they should pay for their misdeeds.

But in 2013, women who demand everything on divorce, and expect maintenance forever after, should hang their heads in shame. We must show everybody that we are not simpering victims, but proud, strong and, above all, financially independent.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICSDISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL  and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine).   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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